Study finds hospitalization from omicron 10.5 times higher among unvaccinated

Hospital room for patients with COVID-19.
Hospital room for patients with COVID-19. Photo credit Getty Images

A new study has found that the risk of hospitalization among unvaccinated adults in the U.S. was 10.5 times higher after the emergence of the omicron variant compared to those vaccinated and boosted.

The study comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and also noted that the rate of hospitalization was 2.5 times higher among those that were vaccinated but not boosted compared to those that received all of their shots.

The findings were published in Jama Internal Medicine last week. Researchers examined data from 192,509 hospitalizations from more than 250 hospitals in 13 states from Jan. 1, 2021, to April 20, 2022.

During that time, hospitalization rates were 3.5 to 17.7 times higher for the unvaccinated compared to their vaccinated counterparts, no matter if the vaccinated had a booster.

For those who were hospitalized that had been vaccinated, the study said that they tended to be older, with the median age range being 70, compared to 58 for those who had no doses of the shot.

The study also found that 77.8% of those vaccinated that were hospitalized had at least three underlying conditions, while only 51.6% of those who were unvaccinated did.

"The high hospitalization rates in unvaccinated compared with vaccinated persons with and without a booster dose underscores the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations in preventing hospitalizations and suggests that increasing vaccination coverage, including booster dose coverage, can prevent hospitalizations, serious illness, and death," the researchers wrote.

With boosters being developed specifically to target variants like omicron, which has been able to evade immunity provided by the previous vaccine, some experts have continued to stress the importance of getting the shot.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist with the University of Minnesota's CIDRAP center, has also stressed the importance while speaking with News Talk 830 WCCO's Chad Hartman last week.

Osterholm noted that the current vaccines aren't doing an excellent job of stopping infection or transmission, but they keep people out of the hospital and the grave.

"In terms of the new boosters, they may play some role in improved protection against BA.5. I don't really know how much," Osterholm said. "They surely are not any worse than the previous vaccines, so that's important to note."

For those who have seemed to move on from the pandemic, Osterholm acknowledged that he too wants it to be done, but it isn't over.

"COVID right now is the number four cause of death in this country, and everyone is acting as if it's done and it's over with. It's not," Osterholm said.